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'They see that some of the best things take a lot of hard work:' Meridian students excel with hands-on learning

Sarah Panageotou at The Guardians Academy says she teaches her kindergarten class through real-life experiences.

MERIDIAN, Idaho — On a windy day at The Guardian's Academy in Meridian, small hands are preparing for the growing season.

"I try to make all things exciting and hands-on," said Sarah Panageotou, who teaches kindergarten at the academy.

Panageotou says her students have been involved in the entire process of planting gardens.

"They got to build the garden boxes, they got to go with me to the Northend Nursery to pick out the seeds they wanted to grow. They put them in the ground, and now they have to take care of them and water them and see the whole process from start to finish," explained Panageotou. "They don't just get a final product and something quickly taught about it. They see that some of the best things take a lot of hard work."

She says being an educator at an outdoor academy allows her to teach through real-life experiences.

"We've gotten to use a different type of curriculum so instead of working to pass tests, they're working to see how things work out in the real world," Panageotou said. "So instead of just talking about how to garden they're getting in there, their hands are in the soil, and they're really working on those measurements and all of those skills learning how to take care of things."

This year her students have been on a lot of adventures too. They have been hiking, been scientists, and forged a knife. They even took scuba lessons for marine biology and chopped down their own Christmas tree.

Her passion is igniting creativity in her students and a sense of awe for the world around them.

The Guardian's Academy purchased Linder Farms last year. This is the first year the outdoor program has been on the site.

"I find this type of learning and education really is important because it helps them become their own person," Panageotou said. "They get to explore so many different things and find what they really enjoy out of life."

Educators, for more information on submitting an application for a classroom grant you can visit capedfoundation.org. If you would like to nominate an innovative educator email us at innovativeeducator@ktvb.com.

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